Law and order activists, critics of California’s drug laws, and victims rights groups independently have loaded three separate crime measures onto the Nov. 4 ballot. The Sacramento Bee says it’s not easy for voters to sort them out. Propositions 5, 6 and 9 cover 115 pages, would change scores of laws and would affect billions of dollars in state spending.
Voters will decide whether to change drastically the way the state prosecutes drug addicts and the lower-level property crimes they commit, diverting an estimated 18,000 offenders from prison into treatment programs. That’s the thrust of Proposition 5. They’re also being asked to give local law enforcement more money, protect what funds they already get, and toughen laws aimed at street gang members, methamphetamine cookers and serious ex-cons with guns in public. Those are the basics of Proposition 6. The third measure seeks to put victims at or near the center of the entire criminal justice process and give them a constitutional right to participate in plea bargaining and parole decisions. It also wants to make life-term inmates wait 15 years between parole hearings, stop early inmate releases, and have counties build tent jails to handle inmate overflow. That’s Proposition 9.